London party

Conservatives talk tough on Russia, but what about the London Kremlin-linked oligarchs?

Sanctions and harsh rhetoric will do little to tackle the fraud and money laundering that have become so problematic in London.

Boris Johnson is in Ukraine today, speaking tough with Russia, vowing to stand by Ukraine and promising Vladimir Putin that any invasion of Ukraine would be a ‘disastrous step’.

The UK, unlike France and Germany, took a much tougher stance, with Johnson also announcing new £88m funding to promote stable governance in Ukraine and reduce its dependence on supplies Russian energy.

In recent days, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has also tightened Britain’s sanctions regime against Russia, allowing the government to target Russian banks, energy companies and oligarchs if Putin launches an invasion.

Yet, as the government speaks harshly to Russia, it has yet to resolve the contradictions between its stated foreign policy goals and objectives on the one hand and the fact that it has allowed London to become a playground for the Kremlin-linked oligarchs on the other.

The Washington Post today published an article on the extent of links between London and the oligarchs who used the capital to clean up dirty money. Oliver Bullough, a British writer formerly based in Russia, told the newspaper that “he knew close relatives of Putin’s ‘very good friends’ who owned property in London”.

“These include famous oligarchs such as Chelsea football team owner Roman Abramovich, but also lesser-known Kremlin-linked figures like Vladimir Yakunin, a former neighbor of the Russian president and former boss of Russian railways. which has been linked to a $47 million home.”

And what draws them to London, as the article points out, is a lack of financial oversight that allows “the use of trusts and blind trusts [and] the ability to use derivatives and other financial products to bring money into the country”.

Sanctions and harsh rhetoric will do little to tackle the fraud and money laundering that have become so problematic in London.

A parliamentary report entitled Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK pointed out that the robust rhetoric had been undermined by “London remaining a ‘top destination’ for Russian oligarchs with Kremlin ties to launder the proceeds of corruption and conceal their assets”.

Witnesses also told the Committee that Britain’s financial system was seen as an easy target for Kremlin-linked oligarchs seeking to hide assets in London and launder money obtained through corrupt means in Russia.

Journalist Luke Harding said: “There is a view that we in the UK are basically suckers and you can enjoy all the freedoms and legal protections you have here while flying home. So you fly to a place of legal nihilism and relocate to a place of legal soundness.

Labor also recently asked the Tories what checks the party has made on donations received from people linked to Russia and whether it could be certain that any money received did not come from the Kremlin or other people hostile to the UK. United.

Lubov Chernukhin, a banker and wife of former Russian oligarch Vladimir Chernukhin, has donated £2.1million to the Tories since 2012. The BBC has alleged her husband ‘was secretly funded by a Russian oligarch with close ties to the president Putin”.

Lawyers for the Chernukhins said it was not accepted that any of Lubov Chernukhin’s political donations were funded through improper means or affected by someone else’s influence.

Alexander Temerko has also donated over £1million to the Tories. He is a minority shareholder and co-owner of Aquind. Its majority investor is Russian-born oil tycoon Viktor Fedotov, who secretly co-owned a company once accused of participating in a massive bribery scheme linked to a Russian pipeline.

Reuters also reported that Temerko had forged a career at the top of Russia’s arms industry and had connections at the highest levels of the Kremlin.

Fedotov’s lawyers have consistently denied the allegations and Temerko has denied having any political influence in the UK and having any ties to the Russian state.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

As you are here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to help us survive. We provide progressive and independent media that challenges the hateful rhetoric of the right. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We are not funded by billionaire donors, but rely on readers contributing whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do is not free and we operate with few means. Can you help us by donating as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can give, we really appreciate it – and we’ll make sure your money goes as far as it can go to deliver impactful news.